In November, Prep Rally brought you the story of the Welsch sisters, controversial young endurance running stars in Texas. At the tender ages of 10 and 12, Heather and Kaytlynn Welsch have run more than 160 races in two years, often running with elite competitors. Their success has been both celebrated and the source of great angst among many who argue that the sisters are far too young to run the miles that they do.
Now the Welsch sisters can take a back seat to an even younger, possibly more extreme endurance runner. And he’s doing everything for charity.
As reported by Competitor.com and Fox News, among plenty of other outlets, 9-year-old Nikolas Toocheck is in the midst of preparations for the Antarctica Marathon. He has already run one marathon in Delaware and claims to have run in some 100 competitive events.
Toocheck will run in Antartica for a good reason, working toward a goal of raising $1 million for the charity Operation Warm, started by Toocheck's grandfather, which raises money for coats for children who can’t afford them. In that way, running a marathon in Antarctica makes perfect thematic sense. Toocheck also estimates that he will have to run 1 million steps to complete the seven marathons on seven continents. So, there’s another thematic fit.
Still, there are plenty of other concerns about Toocheck’s fundraising crusade, as inspiring as it may be. The West Chester, Pa. resident is only in fourth grade, at a time when his body is still developing at a rapid stage. To run the miles that Toocheck will have to put in to run marathons is a major strain on any body, let alone that of a 9-year-old.
Additionally, it’s not as if running a marathon in Antarctica is cheap. The race that Toocheck will aim to complete, the White Continent Marathon/Half Marathon, costs $5,085 for entry and travel from Argentina to Antarctica. Add in a flight from Philadelphia to Punta Arenas and the trip cost will inflate to at least $6,000 per person.
Considering the fact that Toocheck is certainly too young to travel and race alone, that’s a minimum outlay of $12,000 to run one symbolic race.
Certainly he could have served the same purpose by running a marathon in Iceland or Finland? It’s plenty cold there, too, and one would think that he would have received plenty of support for turning his back on the seven continent trip to save more money for Operation Warm.
Instead, Toocheck is all set to become the youngest ever competitor in the Antarctica marathon, assuming that he is healthy enough to race there. Should he complete the feat, Toocheck’s accomplishment would be pretty remarkable, and inspiring. Hopefully it won’t have later repercussions.